Earlier this week, Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley was on the receiving end of scathing criticism from attorney for Belize Waste Control (BWC) Eamon Courtenay, who suggested he was “living in another world” for being unable to grasp the importance of consistent payments of the sanitation bill to the company. As of today the Council is six weeks’ behind and it was back in court trying to explain its position to Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin. Mayor Bradley spoke to reporters outside court.
“At this current date, I was able to inform the court that we only owe two weeks of what we owe them, and they are still pursuing litigation. I had impressed upon the court to consider the fact that by the terms of the contract, we can be four weeks in arrears, and I want to make that very clear: it doesn’t mean that we don’t owe the two weeks, but there is a difference between owing a sum of money and being breach of contract, giving rise to a suit and giving the claimants in this case, Waste Control, the right to sue you for the arrears; this is something common in when people pay the month, but they tell you, you can pay until the following month. Within that period, which is a grace period, you are not to be sued. What we are saying is that as long as we are in this four week period, and at the present moment, we are at two weeks, we are not to be sued and the case needs to be discontinued”.
The case returns to court on April 15. We attempted to corner the Mayor on the issue of how this affects residents, but he brushed off our questions, inviting us to a one-on-one session to go over the figures.
Reporter: “When I did a calculation after the last interview, you….”
Mayor Darrel Bradley “You sit down with a calculation, but I am not a mathematician, and I am not a figure person”.
Reporter: “Each resident paid $1.25 to go get the garbage picked up. Do you think that that is exact?”
Mayor Darrel Bradley: “I do not know that you are correct with that, I don’t have those figures; the figures and the facts that I have right now, is in respect to this case. If you want to go through what our audited financial say in respect to the last period under review and you look at exactly how much we pay for sanitation services, it’s an $8 million payment out of a $17 million budget; you can do whatever mathematical calculations you want on how that works out into individual residence or whatever. That figure, I don’t have. If you want todo that analysis in the proper way, and you want to then, ask me a question abot that after I have had an opportunity to look specifically at what you say and make a fair comment, the I will be happy to do that”.
The Mayor repeated his concerns about the high cost of sanitation and suggested that City residents are obligated to take on more of the burden. After all, he says, it’s their City too.
Mayor Darrel Bradley: “I think there is an issue with recycling and the waste, several issues with respect to hot spots and several other issues that they have always put on the table for discussions. Those are issues that we have addressed and we have back-and- forth, but one of the difficulties ids that we are always in litigation with this matter because that we are at the perennial problem of being able to service this to time. It doesn’t mean that the city council can’t pay them. It just means that we pay them in the month of January, February and March. I guarantee you, Geovanni, that come November, you will be asking me the same questions in relation to what we are in that gap, because at that point, we don’t have any revenues. Last November, I remember that Mr. Maine, who is right behind me and my good friend, was picketing at the city council’s premises because at that time, we were in arrears. I remember, there were strike actions as well. So, the difficulty that we have is, that the cost for this, when you consider the priorities and the obligations of a council, it is too significant as a single expense”.
The Council also has sizable payments owed to the other sanitation company, Belize Maintenance Limited (BML.)